"...I have no doubt some serious work went into getting the formula just right because no one flavor dominates, the spice and seasonings all meld together beautifully. I couldn't stop dunking my short ribs into this sauce. I'm convinced it would make just about anything taste good."

– Amy Sherman, Cooking with Amy

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Happy Holidays!

I want to wish everyone Happy Holidays, and thank you so much all for your support in 2013. It was a huge year for SFQ, as we tripled the number of retail locations that carry the sauce.

The biggest driver of that growth was being introduced into virtually every Bay Area Whole Foods. So far it’s been a great partnership, and we’re looking forward to expanding even further with them in the New Year. We did tasting demos at numerous locations, and all were met with rave reviews and brisk sales.

By the way, our sources at the North Pole are telling us that jars of SFQ are going to be very popular stocking stuffers this year, so if you’re still looking for that certain something to stick in your favorite foodie's Christmas sock, be sure to pick up a few jars. Thank you, and enjoy!

Santa Photo © Fabriche

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

SFQ Goes Back to the Future at Whole Foods Market

The original S.F. Whole Foods.
It feels as if I’ve come full circle and traveled through time. When I worked in the specialty foods department at the original San Francisco Whole Foods back in the 90's, I never thought that one day I’d actually have my very own product on their shelves, but that's exactly what just happened.

That's right, SFQ is now carried by this country's premier natural foods supermarket chain! We are currently on the San Francisco shelves in the Franklin; Noe Valley; Haight Street; Ocean Ave. and SoMa stores and very much hope to eventually be stocked in all of the Northern California locations.

Whole Foods field trip to a local
goat cheese vendor!
While working for Whole Foods, one of my favorite parts of the job was helping people put together interesting menus using unique, artisan products not typically available in other grocery stores. I also enjoyed meeting new, local and original producers who would bring in their own goods for us to sample.

I find it a happy coincidence that one of those early producers was Michael Recchiuti, who had brought his newly created pate des fruits for our department to taste. I can still remember the excitement in his eyes when he brought in this special confection.

Years later, with as much excitement in my eyes, I asked him to taste our sauce. In its earliest stages, I knew I wanted to pay tribute to San Francisco’s love and history with chocolate, and include it as an ingredient in the sauce.

Chocolatier, Michael Recchiuti,
was an early inspiration.
So it was fortuitous having someone with Michael's palate give me his trusted opinion. I wanted to reveal hints of chocolate in the final recipe, but still wanted it easily identified as a classic American BBQ sauce.

I "heart" Christine's truffles!
Adding yet another chocolate layer to this story, Christine Doerr, of Neo Cocoa, was my neighbor at the first farmer’s market I ever attended, and introduced me to Harv Singh, Whole Foods Markets Local Forager. Under his guidance, SFQ has gained approval to be carried in Whole Foods Northern California region of stores.

On the shelf at the
Whole Foods in Noe Valley!
I feel very excited and fortunate to be working with Whole Foods again. I still smile remembering Christine’s words of encouragement after I thanked her for the introduction, telling me to just “pay it forward.” Now, to think I’ll be that artisan producer that gets to do tastings with the Whole Foods employees, gives me a very special feeling of pride and satisfaction.

I wish to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone involved with our sauce getting into Whole Foods, and maybe one day I can help someone who is launching a new product of their own. As long as it's not another San Francisco-style barbecue sauce, that is. ;)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Meeting Mezcal

He leaned across the table and whispered, have you ever tasted mezcal? “He” being the aptly named Cocktail Whisperer, Warren Bobrow.

I had been invited to join John and travel to Portland where he and Andrew Scrivani, were teaching a class at the International Food Bloggers Conference. Warren was also attending and teaching a freestyle mixology class, and that evening found the four of us dining together at OX.

We had walked several blocks from the hotel, so by the time we were seated, we were ready to eat; appetites made a bit more aggressive by the heady smells of smoky grilling meats sizzling in the open, wood-fired kitchen.

After some very satisfying appetizers paired with lively conversation and a full-bodied red Argentine wine, I was presented with a perfectly charred, beautifully marbled, rib-eye steak. It did not disappoint. Mid-way through the meal, Warren leaned in and asked if I’d ever had mezcal, and then seemed rather delighted to hear I had not.

With noticeable excitement, he had merely to turn around and with one step was at the bar and speaking to the barman, and with another, returning with a shot glass and a bottle of Del Maguey’s Chichicapa in hand. Smiling, he gave me a quick crash course on the spirit’s background and its industrious founder, Ron Cooper. Warren reveled in revealing a treasure trove of great stories he’d amassed during his adventurous, drinking-related travels. Needless to say, the mezcal and ensuing conversation were a perfect pairing with the rest of my steak.

As I sipped, I remember gazing past his shoulder to a well-stocked, very inviting bar, filled with the usual array of different colored bottles. And for whatever reason, the image shifted slightly, and it made me think of having just opened a large box of crayons for the first time. Each one a different color, with hues both familiar and new, sharp and ready, just waiting to be plucked and drawn out. A spontaneous observation of something familiar, but never seen through mezcal eyes before. This was a magical elixir.

I’ve since read, mezcal is a spirit made from the fire-roasted heart (piña) of the maguey, an agave plant native to Mexico. By roasting them underground, the Piñas give mezcal its distinctive smoky properties. As my one and only experience with mezcal, all I can say was Ron Cooper’s Del Maguey Chichicapa was spectacular and must be sipped again soon.

My curiosity has been peaked by this, new to me spirit, and I look forward to buying a bottle to try with barbecue. In viewing Ron’s site, I learned of his passion for highlighting specific and single village varieties of mezcal, and that like wine, the terroir imparts its stamp. Same is true for mole, as each region of Mexico is known for its own specialized recipe; the flavors and characteristics reflecting the area where they are produced.

His Chichicapa, produced in the village of Chichicapa, is about two hours south of Oaxaca and the resulting mezcal has elements of smoke enhanced by definitive notes of chocolate on the finish. Which then got me thinking about similar notes of chocolate found in SFQ, and how much fun it would be to pair different mezcals with smoky barbecued meats. Similarities further overlapping in that barbecue also has distinctive regional varieties, so the possibilities are endless.

I’m pulling a quote from Ron’s site, “You don’t find mezcal, mezcal finds you.” And because of that chance meeting, I may find myself seated across from a certain someone, eating a certain smoky piece of meat, and I’ll be the one leaning over and whispering, “have you ever tried mezcal?”

For more of Warren’s writing, check out “Buffalo Trace and Ribs | On Whiskey” in OKRA, the online magazine of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. His post recounts his pairing of SFQ sauced ribs with a smoky bourbon, among other things.